Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A kawaii single, vaporwave, and some crazy dancing clips

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

VIBE Dance Competition videos

I recently saw a headline that read, “This Dance Routine Is So Impressive That It Looks Unreal.” It led me to a video of The Company’s second-place-winning dance routine at this year’s VIBE Dance Competition, a massive and popular hip-hop dance competition hosted in California. Though I wouldn’t classify the routine as unreal (damn click-bait culture), it was impressive, holding my attention for all six minutes as a melody of everything from Sage The Gemini’s “Red Nose” to Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” played while something like 30 dancers dressed in school uniforms moved in perfect synchronicity. It made me wonder who was awarded first place, and thus began an afternoon of binge-watching. First place went to the equally impressive, but less mass friendly—they used much more abrasive songs and costumes—Academy Of Villains, who perform a stellar marionette-inspired routine to Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream” starting at 2:15. Although the routine ends with an awful Evanescence song, the crew’s work with a shadow screen is fine artistry. And if you’re really in for the long haul, Culture Shock performs a 13-minute tribute to Daft Punk. But you don’t have to stop, because an abundance of VIBE videos are available on YouTube. [Becca James]

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, “Ring A Bell”

I’m not an overly positive or effusive person. I rarely hug anyone that I’m not married to and I don’t own any “cute” dog-related clothing. But I’ve fallen hard for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s “Ring A Bell,” a J-pop track that’s pretty much cute personified. The singer’s become popular in Japan for exemplifying kawaii culture—which essentially translates to “adorable”—and “Ring A Bell” is her first song sung entirely in English. It’s not exactly complicated sounding, with Kyary just repeating the same few lines over and over (“Let’s go to the studio / Let’s go to the studio / Let’s go to the music studio!”) but it’s catchy in the same way as a track like “Everything Is Awesome” or “Happy.” Seriously, listen to it once, and you won’t be able to shake it free from your now extremely ebullient subconscious. [Marah Eakin]


Working to vaporwave

Since joining the staff of The A.V. Club full-time, I’ve been struggling to learn how to write in an office setting—a big change for someone used to the stay-at-home-dad schedule of jotting notes, cranking out a draft during naptime, and then tidying the piece up in the evening, after the kid goes to bed. (It doesn’t help that I’m a slowpoke.) Writing to music—something I rarely did at home—has helped. At first, it was the early baroque, with its predictable, reliable rhythms. Lately, I’ve revisited vaporwave, a nearly played-out subgenre of sample-based, ’90s cyberpunk Muzak, which materialized sometime around 2011. James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual—one of the first proper vaporwave albums, and still probably the best—has re-entered my life as the soundtrack to my commute, and マクロスMacross 82-99’s Sailorwave  scores my mid-morning email check. Disconscious’ Hologram Plaza—a relatively late entry from last year—goes well with a strong coffee when it’s time wrap up a review. Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up on the PC games of the ’90s (Far Side Virtual  has a definite Maxis vibe), but the genre’s sonic palette—clean MIDI instrumentation, samples of smooth jazz, tinny elevator echoes—tends to bring out my focused, productive side. At least for now. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

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